2020 has been a pivotal year for many of us who either work a normal 9-5 job or who own a business that mostly relied on to face to face transactions offline. The need for social distancing has forced many workers and business owners to work from home.
If you’re one of the many who has lost their source of income due to the pandemic and are forced to look for options on how to make a living from home, selling online is something that you can consider.
A lot of people have already made a good income from home by selling products online. While there’s a learning curve, online selling can be a lucrative business that in time has the ability to replace ones’ full-time income from work.
There are a lot of ways to sell products online. You can start selling products on local classifieds sites like Craigslist or the Facebook marketplace, which is a good way of making part-time income or of disposing of stuff you don’t really need but local online selling is both time-consuming and less profitable as you lack scale and automation.
The best way to sell products online with a chance of turning them into a full-time business is by focusing on scale.
Scale makes use of technology to reach and serve more customers than you can possibly reach when you’re simply posting on local classifieds and the Facebook marketplace.
Where to Sell Products Online
There are different distribution channels where you can sell your products online. If you’re looking to dispose-off some items that you may already have, you can post your inventory on various local classifieds sites and the Facebook Marketplace but if you’re looking to build either a part-time or full-time business out of online selling, you might want to consider online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc.
The advantages of selling on marketplaces are that they already have established traffic of people who are armed with credit cards and are ready to buy. The disadvantage is that there are also other sellers on the platform and the fact that you don’t really own the platform, which means that you don’t have complete control, should they decide to kick you out for some absurd reason.
Despite not having full control of a marketplace, it may be a good place to start if you’re looking to be able to sell your products right away but then, as I mentioned above, you need not limit yourself to simply selling on Amazon or eBay as you can always establish your own eCommerce store, especially if you’re producing your own products.
In a nutshell, below are the following ways you can sell your products online:
What Products Should I Sell Online?
Some people searching for information on how to sell products online may already have products on-hand that they’re trying to dispose-off, ideally at a profit. If you belong to this group of people and you want to recoup your capital right away. You may look into posting your products on the different resources mentioned above.
If you haven’t yet decided on which product line or niche to focus on, you can start with product research. The Amazon marketplace is a good resource that you can use to search for profitable products to sell online since all products sold are ranked using what’s called the Amazon Best Seller Rank, you have an idea of how well a product is performing in the Amazon marketplace, which as you may know is the biggest retail marketplace.
To research Amazon’s catalog manually, launch Amazon.com, and type your product’s name or description on the search field, then click on your product from the search result. You will then see the product detail page as below:
On your keyboard, press ctrl + f, and type the word “rank”, without the quotes. You will then see the best seller rank for your product as below:
The above example ranks #265 in the Kitchen & Dining category, based on the AMZScout Sales Estimator, this product sells around 9,180 units a month. Now, that’s not an exact number but you could expect total monthly sales of somewhere around this figure for this specific product.
If you’re using Amazon’s Best Seller Rank as your basis for finding products to sell, the lower the sales rank, the better. If you don’t have the products at hand, you can research products first before you purchase or manufacture inventory, this way you’ll have a solid idea of how well your product is going to sell once you have inventory on hand.
Ecommerce Business Models
If you’ve done a bit of research on starting an eCommerce business or selling physical products online, you may already be aware that there different eCommerce business models.
Once you’ve found a profitable product to sell, you have to decide on which type of business model you would like to implement.
The business models below are the most common:
Depending on where you intend to sell your products, you can choose from any of the business models above that best fits your eCommerce strategy and capital.
You can do retail arbitrage whether you’re selling products on your own eCommerce store or as an Amazon seller. Retail arbitrage is simply a buy and sell business, where you buy the product from other retailers, usually, in your locality, and flip it for a profit online.
The retail arbitrage business model is commonly practiced by most Amazon sellers. Using the Amazon seller app or other tools like Pocket Profit, they go out on a bounty hunt in their local stores, scanning products on clearance shelves to find products that sell more (ideally with low sales rank) in the Amazon marketplace.
There are a lot of Amazon sellers who make a full-time living doing retail arbitrage but you need to be prepared to hustle full time, every day if you are to turn this into a full-time venture.
The online arbitrage business model was born out of retail arbitrage. You use the same strategy, the only difference is that you source products from other online retails stores such as Walmart, Home Depot, Walgreens, etc.
I’ve found that the most challenging part of an online retail business is product sourcing as you have to constantly search for inventory on a regular basis. Doing it manually can take so much of your time, using software like Tactical Arbitrage if you plan to focus in buying and selling items from retail sources will make a lot of difference in your product search.
I also find hiring a virtual assistant who will help you with sourcing products on a daily basis frees you to do other stuff for your business or your current source of income while you’re trying to build your eCommerce business.
Though retail arbitrage and online arbitrage is mostly-practiced by Amazon FBA sellers, you can use the same product sourcing strategy or business model with your own eCommerce store should you choose to but do keep in mind that you have to drive traffic to your own store as compared to when you’re selling on a marketplace.
Dropshipping is a lucrative business model both as a marketplace seller or an eCommerce store owner. As opposed to what most sellers believe, dropshipping is actually allowed on Amazon, provided that you don’t dropship from other retailers (i.e., Walmart, Home Depot, etc).
What’s mostly taught by YouTube Amazon Dropshipping gurus is dropshipping from other retailers which are prohibited by Amazon as you have to be the seller of record on all products you ship out to your Amazon customers.
Dropshipping on Amazon from other retailers is the fastest way you can get your seller account banned from Amazon and even if you’re dropshipping from your own store, I wouldn’t suggest that you dropship from other retailers as receiving Home Depot boxes when they bought from your store comes with a very bad customer experience.
Whether you’re going to sell on your own store, Amazon, or eBay, it will do you good in the long term if you take the time to search for real dropship suppliers that either ship out unbranded packages or ones that have your store’s branding.
Compared to retail and online arbitrage, wholesale sourcing will give your business a constant source of inventory each time you run out of stock for a certain item as you’re certain that you can order that item again from your source. I’m not saying that your supplier doesn’t run out of stocks because they do too but then you can resell the same items over and over again, giving your inventory some sort of consistency, especially if you’re selling on your own store.
If you’re running your own eCommerce store, you can check out Tundra and Faire. These two wholesale marketplaces bring in an eCommerce buying experience most of us are familiar with but products are sold on wholesale pricing. You need to have a valid business registration to join as a wholesale buyer and you cannot sell products sourced from them on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay; this means you need to have your own eCommerce store to purchase from these wholesale marketplaces.
Private label is perhaps the riskiest e-commerce business model but is also one that comes with the highest long-term ROI. If you’re just starting out selling physical products online, I would suggest that you earn your hours first with other business models before you dive into the lucrative but risky world of private label.
Private Label means that you come up with your own brand, a brand that none of your target audience yet recognize, which means that you may run into the problem of not being able to sell your inventory as soon as you would have hoped for.
As a new brand, you need to promote your brand before consumers are going to trust your brand’s value. If you don’t have a lot of budget for advertising, you might end up with a warehouse full of products you can’t move, so always start small.
Like any other business venture, the best way to launch a product is to launch it on Amazon which is an already successful marketplace but this doesn’t mean that your product will move right away. Even when launching at a highly trafficked marketplace such as Amazon, you still need to promote your product, yes you need a budget for ads.
A private label business is the pinnacle of your online selling career as you can launch a product line that you can sell on your own branded store that you can build for the long term.
The more popular your brand becomes, the bigger your business is going to be. A lot of people have found success by simply selling private labeled products on Amazon but since you have your own brand, Amazon will only be a launching space, you can build your brand around a niche, build an eCommerce store and offer wholesale pricing in the future. Giving you the opportunity to make your products available to big box stores such as Walmart, Target, and what have you.
To Sum It Up
Selling products online is a lucrative eCommerce career that you can start as a side business and later grow into a full-time home-based business. There are various ways on how you can sell products online. Some people sell locally on online classifieds and the Facebook marketplace but if you’re serious about building a business out of selling physical products online you have to look beyond that. Most people selling online find success by selling physical goods on already existing marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.
Like any other worthwhile business venture, a physical goods eCommerce business has its own learning curve; you can’t just post any product on a marketplace and expect to go full-time the first month. The risks come with buying non-moving inventories, which means that your inventories can sit in the fulfillment warehouse for months, if not years.
The key is in properly researching fast-moving inventories that sell multiple units a day. Ideally, each inventory line should sell at least 10 a day, or 25 units on average. If you have 5 products that sell 25 units each a day, at an average price of $15.00, you’re looking at around $56,000.00 a month in gross income, say you only net 10% on each product line, that’s a net monthly income of $5,000.00.
Now, selling physical products online isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, in fact, it may take months or even years before you see consistent monthly profits because, you know, mistakes are made! And, you’ll most likely have your own share of mistakes in the eCommerce business but if you’re serious about this, you will stay consistent.
The fastest way to sell with an online retail business is by selling on existing marketplaces like Amazon, and eBay but I would suggest that you shouldn’t put all your hopes in these marketplaces, they’re the best platforms to launch your retail or wholesale business from but you should eventually build your own eCommerce platform.
You may have heard of stories of Amazon sellers who get ban from the platform with still hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpaid sales. These kinds of stories are quite scary and it does happen, so focus on using third-party marketplaces as your launching pad, and to get sales right away but don’t settle with them once you start to grow.
The best way to find profitable products to sell online is to research fast-moving products with not a lot of competition. You can use product research tools such as Egrow / Amzscout, when selling on Amazon, and Zik Analytics when dropshipping on eBay. Another approach to selling online is to launch your own eCommerce store, using tools such as Shopify.
If you don’t like the idea of not having full control over your business when selling on marketplaces, you can launch your own online store, instead, however, you have to keep in mind that no one knows about your store at the start of your business. This means that you have to drive traffic to your eCommerce store in order to have an audience to sell to. In most instances, you have to do this via paid ads. See those products on your Facebook feed? Someone’s paying for them to appear on your feed, to hopefully get your attention, and convert you into a paying customer for their online store.
Generally, you have to decide on whether or not you want to hold inventories, or only buy inventories when someone purchases an item. If you’re going to sell on Amazon, I suggest that you purchase your inventories in advance, have them shipped to an FBA warehouse, and let your team at Amazon deal with the pack and ship, while you focus on searching for more inventories to sell. Note that dropshipping from other retailers isn’t allowed in Amazon, this is the fastest way of getting your seller account banned, you can however dropship by using real dropshipping suppliers, where you are still the seller of record.
The problem with dropshipping from other retailers is that your sold items, often come in a branded shipping box, so say, for example, you dropshipped an item from Home Depot, your customer will receive the items in a Home Depot box. Amazon frowns at this! eBay, on the other hand, is a more open marketplace where a lot of sellers are actually drop shippers.
There’s actually nothing bad about dropshipping as long as you fulfill your customers’ needs, that’s what business is after all, right? Business is about solving our customers’ problems by providing them with the products and services they need or want.
Most eCommerce sellers who run their own eCommerce shops actually drop ship and do not maintain inventories. This is the beauty of selling products online from home, since maintaining inventories can sometimes be tricky, especially if you didn’t take the time to do your research before purchasing your inventory. If you’re planning to sell from your own online store, I would suggest that you dropship instead of buying products and storing products as you may end up with hundreds if not thousands of inventories that you can’t sell.
So, there you have it! How to sell products online from home. I hope that this article sparked some entrepreneurial ideas to help you get started. Again, there are a lot of options. You can sell on Amazon, eBay, or through your own eCommerce store. Either way, the bulk of work is on product research. It takes a lot of work in researching products to sell online but this is something you can do with a laptop, and an internet connection, right from the comforts of your home.